I’ve always considered that the North West, and Greater Mancunia in particular, was a hot bed of musical talent – this is based on my youthful experiences in the semi-rural East Midlands. In my formative years the big bands would visit rarely, the nearest best gigs were in “that London”, and the local bands were essentially Elvis impersonators or clones of the Edgar Broughton Band,Led Zeppelin or Cream – however that’s decades ago and I digress.
Of late this perception of the North West and in particular the Manchester Conurbation Scene, has been magnified somewhat exponentially.
Music comes in waves in my experience – you get down times where nothing new emerges, bands split, people give up music altogether through either frustration or financial expedience – and then all of a sudden you get sudden rushes of new things where you have to work twice as hard to keep up with what is going on. We are at the top of one of the sine curves at the moment with excellent stuff emerging from bands like Factory Star, The Inflictors, The Black Knights and Trojan Horse, and local lables like Sways, Gulf and the topic of this little peroration – Superstar Destroyer.
It would be incredibly lazy and frankly redundant of me to parrot what is on their excellent website so I will attempt to describe what this lable is all about in my own way. I’ve had a sense from the other side of the river of a bubbling underground of bands who were searching a way out of the Elbow/Kloot/Doves miasma which appears to have inflicted the scene over recent years – Day For Airstrikes, Warm Widow, Nasdaq, to name a few – and like Sways and Gulf (who will get their own write ups from me in due course)- Superstar Destroyer are unashamedly promoting music which is unique and different from the perceived “Manchester” sound – in this case unique, in some cases loud, intense, and a clear move towards the progressive and post-rock genres. They have had some recent releases and have more planned so their is plenty to listen to. I am dedicating my Aural Delights show on April 20th to this lable so you will be able to hear some examples of the fine music which has been or is being released.
In no particular order the bands involved in the lable are
Black Market Serotonin – their Deadbyfiveoclock (sic) EP was released today and is a mammoth slab of progressive rock – they make a hell of a lot of noise for a trio – comparisons with Porcupine Tree have been made and I can see the link but this is altogether a more visceral sound. The nearest local comparison I can make (and the line up and instrumentation is the same) is, one of my favourites, The Ascension from Macclesfield. There are also tinges of Amplifier in the structure. You can expect massive waves of riffing guitar noise, lengthy songs, and dramatic epic delivery. The interesting thing is the way Andrew Pimlott (vox, guitars, keyboards) delivers in a near operatic Hammill-esque style hovering between a baleful declamatory polemic and a raw emotional pitch. I like Michael Coleman’s busy drumming – it takes the songs beyond the thrash side of this style of music, and Lee Campbell’s bass provides an excellent rhythmic pulse to the whole affair. Pimlott uses keyboards well to construct good changes in the songs. Highly recommended.
The variety on the lable is exemplified by the material delivered by Metamusic – having decamped to Manc from Durham a couple of years back this three piece, with what appears to be a maddeningly confusing story around drummers, offer a totally different style to the preceding. However it does nestle comfortably in the prog box – albeit with more of a leaning towards ambience and electronica, and some clear post-rock references. There is very good blurring of genres here between what you might get on a Gulf release and the other acts on Superstar Destroyer – as the blurb on the website says it’s hard to find a comparator – what I liked about them is their approach to mixing that near hip-hop ambient feel with some pretty nifty and tasty guitar work. Their first EP World to Come is packed with great tunes and is melodically strong. Again highly recommended.
Of the earlier releases on the lable the most intriguing is that by Dune – released last November this sort of slipped under my radar until now, which is damned annoying, as they are rather fine indeed. Again like the two bands above these guys are totally different but can be generalised as being progressive and post-rock also. The two song release is called Golden Snake is as refreshingly different as Black Market Serotonin and Metamusic are in their own way. There is a lighter structure but it’s embued with sonic invention that recalled, to me at any rate, the No Wave sound of late 70s New York. The delicate guitar interplay has an 80s romanticism but also a current angular feel which bears repeated listening. The up tempo shuffle which concludes “Troposphere” is particularly good.
I’d played Nowhere Again’s Plans sometime ago on the old Reformation show and I had filed away in my head to contact Alex from the band again to discuss hearing more of the bands music – we were linked up by a mutual regard for the very talented Mr Charlie Barnes. However Chinese Hackers and other things got in the way so i’ve missed out on the band until now. Their “Now I Am Twenty” EP will be out on May 9th and I suggest you put your order in now as it’s a marvellous piece of work. They describe themselves partly as “shoegaze” – an epithet which can conjur up all sorts of grim images of earnest young men with guitars staring steadfastly at their pedals – however I think that they are much more than that. The Radiohead influence is fairly up there for all to see but, again like the other acts on the lable, they have managed to develop their own sound – the closing section of opening three part track “Last Human” for example delves into off-kilter near spoken word and guitar manipulation to create an excellent and very different coda to a wonderfully moody and introspective song. The work of Steven Wilson appears to influence the song structures, as do bands like Oceansize but there is a coherent use of pedal generated guitar orchestration which establishes the bands own sound.
And if all this was not enough then we have Kinetics of which there is maddening little information other that a Soundcloud link to a track called “If there is hope, it lies with the Proles” – which I will leave you to check out for yourself. All I will say is that the band demonstrate a singular sound, very impressive guitaring, and a great high tempo feel, almost post-hardcore but not, if that makes any sense. I look forward to hearing more from this band as they have definately caught my interest.
As I say lots more information is on the website – but it’s gratifying the know that there is a new wave of bands out there who are willing to break the monopoly of what is perceived to be a current Manchester sound. Check this lable and these bands out you will not be disappointed.